Why Evans’ Monte was anything but disappointing

Elfyn Evans stormed into a first-night lead only to slip to third on Sunday. What did he make of his Monte Carlo result?

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When you’ve put more than 15 seconds on your rivals in the first two stages, coming away from a rally with anything other than a win is always going to be a touch disappointing. That was Elfyn Evans’ thinking on Sunday. Initially.

Initially? Yes. Once the Welshman had driven down from the mountains and parked his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 up harbourside in Monaco, you could see he’d been thinking. And thinking back to his chat with DirtFish a couple of weeks earlier.

The Welshman told us the key to Monte was points. Coming out of the Alps with a possible podium would be the foundation to the season ahead.

Happy days then. Not least because Evans has never left round one with more points than he did on Sunday (but he did leave the 2021 Monte with the same number, 21).

Elfyn Evans

Evans departed the opening round with 21 points and a podium third-place finish

“The objective was always to come away with solid points,” reaffirmed last year’s championship runner-up. “I really wanted a podium, so from that side it’s sort of objective achieved.

“I always want to start the year finishing Monte Carlo. There’s nothing worse than starting with very little points on Monte.”

Good. Nice bit of positivity there. Hang on a second, this is Elfyn – the last man on earth to accept anything approaching self-praise. There’s a rider.

“At the same time,” he added, “we’ve clearly got lessons to learn and areas to improve.”

What does the boss think? Is he worried about an eventual third following that storming Thursday night?

Team principal Jari-Matti Latvala’s response is as immediate as it is affirmative.

“It’s not a worry,” he told DirtFish.

Predictably, the Finn has a debrief to hand.

“I think,” he continued, “what happened with him was that he was first car on the road, his car was working really well for the clean road. Then he came to the dirty roads with the cuts and he couldn’t get the car working for that so well.

Elfyn knows the situation. Jari-Matti Latvala

“Then he felt he didn’t want to take the risks so he backed off. And that was the decision he wanted to do. I know he wanted to have important points for the championship because if you think about two years ago – when he went off on Sisteron – it was a difficult season for him.

“He knows he wants to have a podium result, get the points and then it’s easier to go to Sweden.

“I back him for that, absolutely. For me, he needs to think about the championship because he doesn’t necessarily have the same support as what the Hyundai drivers could have over the year from their two drivers – because we are not doing team orders, so our drivers need to have a fair fight when Hyundai might have [help from within the team].

“Elfyn knows the situation, so it’s better to guarantee the points and build up the confidence.”